How should a 22-year-old invest his/her money?

Answer by A Quora admin:

For the 22-year old, this is a boring yet tried-and-true investment method that will make you rich over time, richer than most rappers who'll blow their money on cocaine and other stupid shit. Allow me to start with a simple Excel illustration, entitled “How to Make $10 Million Dollars":

*For illustration purposes only, and like every other method of wealth creation, is subject to tax and inflation. Simply stated (and assuming a decent job), 20% savings smartly invested at a 10% interest rate will get you to the $10MM mark.

My recommendation: 60% stocks 20% bonds 20% real estate.  Bonds & real estate provide necessary diversification, limited downside risk and a continuous stream of dividends. For example, I know that my two-family real estate investments (purchased at a discount, fixed up & rented out) will yield a stable 12% year after year and will probably outperform the stock market.

Some may believe 10% to be an unreasonable rate of return, but 10% is the average return over the entire history of the US stock market – a market that has weathered world war, depression, and hyperinflation.  There is no reason to expect otherwise over a long-term 40-year period (for reference, the most recent 40-year period 1973-2013 yielded 11.43%). Although I may just be lucky, here are four examples of my own personal investments that have more than doubled the S&P-500 benchmark over the past five years (ticker SPY 5% over 5-years).
 
Some insight into how I chose these investments:

RSP Rydex Equal Weight S&P 500 (7% five-year return): the neglected issue with traditional S&P index funds is that large companies like Apple & Exxon take up 8% of the fund. With an equal 0.2% weight given to each of the 500 companies, you’ll get true diversification & outperformance.

HSCSX Homestead Small Company Stock (13%): I inherently favor small companies and this contrarian fund concentrates on out of favor firms ready to turn around.

FNMIX Fidelity New Markets Income (11% with a 4% yield): as international stocks often don't outperform those from the USA, I focus my international exposure on high-yielding dollar-denominated emerging market bonds.

FBIOX Fidelity Select Biotechnology (19%): I often invest in sectors I believe to be promising.  Billions of overpopulation? Fat Westerners prone to diabetes? Possible bird flu pandemic?  Genetic sequencing & new drug therapies?  This fund is my #1 performer but possibly overvalued now.

The single most important thing is to invest in yourself.  Be financially literate and learn new skills such as the Excel modeling and asset allocation strategies detailed herein. Be the very best at whatever you do. Continuous education & aggressive professional diligence. (And by education, I don’t mean going $150,000 into debt for an art history degree. Let me be one of few to emphasize that the education industry is quickly turning into a fool's scam and unless you’re attending a top-20 school, skip it – you’re better off working or going to a decent state subsidized college where you'll get the same education at 1/4 the price.)
 
Now assuming you ain’t no scrub – you’re investing in yourself, saving 20% of your professional income, working hard, and learning to be an astute investor, I now revise my Excel and entitle it – “How to Make $20 Million Dollars”:

* Want an extra $5,000,000?  Save 25% instead of 20%!

Finally, DON’T LOSE MONEY.  Wealthy investors understand this concept better than most which is why you sometimes see sharp overcorrections in the market from options & algorithms that automatically trigger a "sell" – they would rather liquidate in advance of a truly scary situation than risk losing a large percentage of their capital:

1) Market crash & asset bubbles, roughly every 10 years:  If an asset class inflated by credit does not generate enough cash to service the debt, divest. Even I had good enough sense to recognize the pig that was the housing bubble and liquidated every single stock investment a year before that crash.
 
2) Dumb ass investments – wanna build a restaurant to “entertain your friends?”  Did you hide your money in Cyprus or some equally bad socialist European nation? As soon as you made some money, did you buy a yacht or Porsche  to show others you've "made it?” 
 
3) A bad marriage or catastrophic illness – divorce or bad partnerships will wipe out half your net worth. Doing such a thing twice will decimate even a $10 million fortune. Choose wisely, and stay healthy. Don’t race trains and avoid all AIDS situations.

I'm really tempted to model another Excel illustrating how riding market bubbles (bitcoin, anyone?), a fun night in Bangkok and a 50% shave from a bad divorce will affect your net worth. But in this scenario, AIDS will strike you down before I reach line 65… so my advice, which took me 90 minutes to formulate, would be wasted. Anyways, I hope I have been of assistance – thank you for listening and please comment.

How should a 22-year-old invest his/her money?

Akashvani

Nigaho mein manzil thi,
gire aur gir kar sambhalte rahe,
hawao ne bahut koshish ki,
magar chirag aandhiyo mein bhi jalte rahe.
raah mein kaante ek do nahi hote
raah kaanton se bhari hoti hai
manzil us raah ke akhiri chor par khadi hoti hai
jahan har kadam par milti ek nayi chunauti hai
dekh use jinke hounsle dagmagaate hain
ve manzil ko bhula kaanton mein ulajh jaate hain
jinki nigaah manzil par hoti hai
ve kaanton pe hi chalkar manzil ko paate hain

I am planning to quit my job and study algorithms full-time for one year. Can anyone give me some advice?

Answer by A Quora admin:

Congratulations on that thought. It's a bold idea, and I commend you for even thinking about it; not many can. Everyone wants to win, but very few want to prepare to win.

As founder of Coding Interview Bootcamp, Interview Kickstart , I routinely  talk to engineers who aspire to get into some of the best companies in Silicon Valley.

Most of them don't have the luxury of spending a year full-time on it. But if you do, that's awesome and the following is what I'd advice you:

Short version: IMHO, quitting or not is a secondary decision. Your primary decision is to figure out what you will do with your time, such that it maximizes your chances to achieve your goal.

Longer version:
(Longer version got longer than what I'd thought I'd initially write, but I hope that anyone who reads it will find it useful):

1. Make a meticulous plan

The plan you've given is a good start, but go deeper with that. What you need, is a plan for Deliberate Practice. Read all about Deliberate Practice and I bet it'll resonate with you. You want to exactly know how many days you'll take off, how many hours you can put into it per day, how many topics you'll study and how many projects or interview-problems (roughly) you want to get exposed to, per topic. And you want to do this prep with interview-orientation.

Cracking the Coding Interview (5th Edition) is a very good book, but depending on the team you interview at Google, you may not find it adequate. I'd say also go thru Elements of Programming Interviews book. Between those two books and Glassdoor, you should have enough fodder. You can also use Introduction to Algorithms (book), but I'd suggest you use it more as a reference, instead of an interview-prep book, otherwise you may get overwhelmed.

On the same lines, I am not sure if an Algorithms class is going to be very useful. It may be useful as a system of discipline (see my next point), but not super useful for interview prep. They're likely to cover a lot of material that's not interview-useful, and not give enough practice on material that actually is.

When you're practicing problems, make sure to write code. Code every problem you study, and time yourself. If you exceed 45 minutes in any problem, then do it again and again until you bring it down to 45 minutes. Use TopCoder or Codeforces or HackerRank or Leetcode or similar to practice a bit more competitively.

Many people will advise you to practice on a whiteboard instead of coding. While that definitely helps and is required,  getting fluent with writing algorithms and data-structures in actual code is the first step. Once you are comfortable with that, then transferring that skill to a whiteboard is not much work.

Point being, when you make a detailed plan, is when you'll know what to do next, and it will feed into your go/no-go decision.

2. It may not take a full year

How will you know that you're ready?

a. Go breadth-first, instead of depth-first. 

With the help of someone, decide on a set of topics you need to practice (Arrays, Strings, Recursion, DP, Trees etc),. Then divide your plan into progressively deeper phases with more challenging interview-problems. Do a measured bit of all topics in each phase  instead of devoting a phase to an entire topic. Again – don't forget to write code for each problem you study.

b. Measure yourself with mock interviews after each phase.

When you see yourself improving in mock interviews, you'll get more confident. You'll know when to stop and it's very likely that you may not need a full year. Make sure you find the right interviewers to do mock interviews. Good interviewing is a function of experience in interviewing.

In order to justify the time off on the resume, I'd advice you to do some freelancing work on the side.

3. Create a support system

If you are as human as most humans are, then keeping focus, discipline and motivation through your year off (or even part-time) is going to be hard. Very hard.

In order to keep that adrenalin up, you should create the best support system you can, with some or all of the following

a. Create a system of study: Nobody says it better than Scott Adams does. Read this, patiently: Scott Adams Blog: Goals vs. Systems 11/18/2013

b. Find a buddy: Study together, check each other's work, hold each other accountable. You both will retain the knowledge longer and grow stronger together. Did you know, that CS colleges in Israel give joint homework? It often works like magic.

c. Find a mentor (or mentors): Someone who already works at Google and trusts you for what you are, would be great. Ask for guidance, mock interviews, evaluations, code-reviews etc.

d. Measure yourself, constantly: After every sub-goal achieved, make sure to evaluate/judge/measure yourself with some objective measure e.g. a mock interview or a coding challenge.

e. Health insurance: If you have a partner who can support you, that's awesome. If not, you need to factor in Obamacare premium as part of your savings (US only, of course).

4. Work for mastery, not to crack Google

Counter intuitive as it may sound, but it is the most important thing: Don't aim for Google. Aim to get mastery over interview algorithms/data-structures. Google will follow. When you gain mastery, then many others companies will follow too.

Working for Mastery vs Performance is a well-known theory in education. When you aim for Mastery vs. Performance is when you'll be able to pull yourself out of low moments. And only then, a lot of things I suggested earlier will become easy viz. writing code, timing yourself, doing mock interviews, talking with like-minded people etc.

5. Interview mastery will translate into superior performance at work.

That's hard to believe, but I've seen that happen in several cases. Interview Questions are a great means to learn. They are the fastest connectors of theory and practice. They expose you to real challenges and make you think harder.

Most importantly, you'll not be worried about finding a job again, which will make you more confident at your current work.

6. Continually measure yourself

Repeating and highlighting this point, because I can't emphasize this enough. Mock interviews are a great way to measure your progress. Do a round before you start and do a round after each phase of your prep. That way, you'll know when to stop and how far to go. There is no other way you'll objectively know.

7. Clearly know what you are optimizing for

Realize that this is an expensive experiment for you. Not only you'll spend your savings of a year, you'll also lose the salary for a year. If you are in Silicon Valley, that can easily mean $200K total, after tax. Even if you join Google, you'll take about 2 years to recover that kind of money.

Though of course, money isn't the only thing that matters and there are many other intangible benefits of cracking into best companies. I just mean that you should have a good sense of that overall, and be comfortable with it.

Lastly:
Your last line is spot on and shows your great attitude. Interviews are neither exact science, nor standardized tests, and there is more to it beyond algorithms and data-structures. So you may still fail at Google interviews after all this. But if you've worked with the aim of gaining mastery, and utilized every waking moment of that year with a plan, you will still come out ahead, and your prep will benefit you in unseen ways.  It has to.

http://youtu.be/jwG_qR6XmDQ
If you decide to take the plunge, then I wish you the very best. Like they say, May the force be with you!

(Prepare to win quote adapted from a similar quote by Paul Bryant)

(Edit 1: Highlighted some important concerns that were buried
Edit 2: Added a short version, and attributed the quote)

I am planning to quit my job and study algorithms full-time for one year. Can anyone give me some advice?

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I Did Not Die

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

–Mary Elizabeth Frye